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D.Gray-man Hallow
Episode 4

How would you rate episode 4 of
D.Gray-man Hallow ?
Community score: 4.4

"I have faith...
When we get through this suffering...
...the world we believed in...
will surely exist, right?"

Faith. Believing in something greater than ourselves. Holding on to the hope that our pain and suffering in this life might not have been in vain. Faith. "Blind trust, in the absence of evidence."

D.Gray-man is far from the only manga to draw on Christian imagery for its mythology. (Noah, the twelve Apostles, the Great Flood, the disciples chosen by God, the redemption of defiled souls through God's, well, Allen's hand.) But unlike many other mangaka, Katsura Hoshino incorporates more than just the imagery and seems to be genuinely interested in exploring the universal truths behind them. Still, not all these symbols are universally resonant, save for one: clowns are scary.

One word is repeated with suspicious frequency throughout this episode: illusion. The Second Exorcist program was an illusion according to a mortified Bak Chang. The lotus flowers associated with Kanda are an illusion. We already know his different attacks are dubbed illusions, and from how things are going for the Exorcists, the faithful hope expressed by a child's voice at the end of this episode might turn out to be the biggest illusion of all. Where episodes 1-3 covered an average of 6.3 manga chapters per episode, we're down to 4 chapters this week, resulting in enough time to let the nicely crafted symmetries sink in.

Caught in an apocalyptic dream, the savior Allen is still pierced by his own Innocence. Mana appears to release Allen's childhood self, just after telling him how much he's in need of saving himself. After having his name erased from the intertitles letter by letter – a minimalistic but effective choice – a very Fourteen-ish looking Allen awakens from his dream. Even if he's back to his usual sweet self within seconds, Lenalee is worried, and Kanda knows from his encounter with The Fourteenth back at the orphanage. Not that he seems to care very much, but that's nothing new. Allen can't stop himself from caring though, so Marie comparing the two of them as both "caught in darkness" feels like an odd image.

Learning that the souls of the Akuma cannot be saved when devoured by the Third Exorcists' weapons, Allen is devastated enough to cry tears of blood. He won't be the last one to do so during this episode. In their very first mission together, Kanda told Allen how Exorcists are not saviors, but destroyers. Allen, who turned his foster father into an Akuma and got subsequently cursed by Mana to see the Akuma's tormented souls, could only accept his calling by holding on to the naive idea of becoming a destroyer who saves lives. As the saying goes: with great tragedy comes great empathy.

But not for everyone. The Order seems to have forgotten the yet-to-be-revealed tragedy involving the Second Exorcists program from 9 years ago, so they do what cult-like military organizations tend to do when forced against the wall on a mission to save the world: They turn away from the righteous path and stop waiting for God to send Innocence accommodators their way, creating powerful half-human, half-Akuma hybrids in their place. I'm inclined to interpret this as not simply straying from God's path invoking the ever popular "the end justifies the means" excuse, but as blatant heresy. We have seen what betraying one's Innocence will do to an Exorcist in the Fallen arc. It wasn't pretty. You'd think there was a price that comes with playing God, as His portrayal in D.Gray-man is firmly of the vengeful rather than the forgiving variety.

This brings us to the Noah, the 12 plus one and a half Apostles who have no problem waiting 35 years for the next reincarnation of their brethren without trying to speed up the process against God's assumed will. (Or so we learn from their expository and sadly not-all-that-engaging reunion.) Now clad in white, they seem to have upped their already quite satisfying bishounen stats, but being reincarnated as a Noah is still on the same level of suck as being chosen by God. Just as with becoming an Exorcist, the awakening of Noah's memories is defined by the absence of choice, as the painful birthing process entails the death of the human host's original personality.

Unless said host is glorious Tyki Mikk, who isn't ready to let go of his human identity just yet, mirroring Allen's own struggle against the Fourteenth's memories awakening inside him. To remind us that, despite his lingering humanity and gorgeousness, it was Tyki who murdered General Yeegar, Exorcists Daisy Barry, and Suman Dark while almost killing Allen by ripping a hole into his heart with his bare hands, Tyki proceeds to cut off both of Tokusa's arms with a smile, prompting the Third Exorcist to beg his friend to devour him so that his "Alma cells" can still be useful. Lovely. Masakazu Nishida endows Tyki with the necessary sex appeal, but it's impossibly unfair to compare him against the diabolically charming Toshiyuki Morikawa.

Sex appeal is probably something not many people would attribute to the Millennium Earl. Part buffoon, part evil clown, I always found him to be a fascinating cross between weird and scary. Sadly, I'm not scared one bit of Hallow's incarnation. One of the Earl's trademark features, his frozen grin from hell, has become a mouth full of detailed giant teeth, which isn't half as unsettling as the mask he wore before. He also screams more. So far, I'm not a fan. But this is a minor point of criticism compared to the excitement of seeing, a wee 107 episodes into the series, the first glimpses of Kanda's past without spelling everything out quite like the manga did at this point. There's going to be more where these came from, as promised by the preview: "We'll show you the "love" and "tragedy" that the Order hid from you."

I'm always on board for a good tragedy, but seeing Kanda fall through the lotus petals and cry tears of blood to the words quoted at the beginning of this review, I'm scared. Still, I can't wait.

Rating: B

D.Gray-man Hallow is currently streaming on Funimation.

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